Friday, October 8, 2010

I'm Score Keeping every game of the 2010 MLB Post Season

Over at my my other baseball blog, where my home made 'Do-It-Yourself' baseball score card lives, I'm taking on the colossal task of score keeping every post season MLB game. So far so good:

I've always found that when you put the work in, stay disciplined, focused on you're dream the universe usually cooperates. Well getting the score all set up with extra innings capability in time for the play-off was my dream, to do this right I needed a quick, easy way to add at-bat, innings totals and pitchers' lines boxes if a game went into extra innings. I thought I had it all worked out - I did my research and found a neat tag that cloisters code from a browser, so the extra innings code sits there hidden away, if I need it I simply remove the code block tags, and voila: a 9 inning score card expands to 18 innings with all the game data from the first 9 innings intact.

See the announcement... "New code for the Internet Baseball Score Card - with Extra Innings! - Score Card Coding update.

I'm using a work in progress called, "Blogger in Draft" blogging application to run the Internet Baseball Score Card Blog because it handles the massive code I've written better than normal blogger. (Normal blogger reads every space in a CSS code as a blank and renders it as a space in publish mode - which leaves about 25 lines of blank space between each table in the Score Card.)

Currently Blogger is in a software race with Word Press - which has all kinds of innovative widgets coming on line all the time - Google's is falling behind in a race they invented - and with Microsoft dumping their blogging software support and sending all their users to Word Press last month, the race has become a do or die one for Blogger.

So, while "Blogger in Draft" is a Beta thing, and s subject to change, it's necessary for the code I've written to score ball games; but imagine my pissed-off-ness when just before the second game of the MLB post season I realized that Blogger in Draft wasn't reading my code blocks. Not only was it not reading the code, but the thing was deleting the code break tags - and everything they were cloistering!


But as I said above, hard work and perseverance pay off in the long run, and in ways you don't see coming - or sometimes even recognize.

I sent Blogger in Draft a bug report and hoped the game I was about to score didn't go into extra innings. That game was Roy Halladay's No-hitter, a nine inning, 1 walk, 4-0 win for Philadelphia. It was the first no-hitter I've ever scored, it was a pleasure and a half. As well, the headlines circling the internet about only the second such no-hitter in post season history have brought lots of eyes to my score card project - which is very important in my view; the art of score keeping is connected to an enlightened view of sport and especially the special game of baseball.

Also having the cultural artifact (a no-hit score card) in my computer has lead to several articles here on the aesthetics of the iconography of a score card. These articles, and something a friend of mine said a while back, have lead me to a new appreciation of the lay out of the score card and it's place in history. It was Chris F A Johnson that pointed this out in his obtuse way a couple of months back. Why, he was saying, box in all the data into the old metric? It is after all just a derivation of old technology, paper and penciled lines laid out in a graph - it probably comes from the book keeping of accountants. Chris made me realize I'd taken the old way and tried to translate it directly, with out thinking as deeply as now, into 1's and 0's.

The essential function of a score card is to put ALL the data from a game of baseball into a graphical, user friendly interface that one can 'read'. The graph paper like score card did that in the age before the computer - do we need that same graph paper lay-out now? The new vessels of media allow us to imagine new vistas. A better interface could be out there - if you can imagine it. So why keep the tight little boxes where you have to develop notations to fit all the data you want to put in? The internet doesn't have space constraints - it's infinity large.

Great question! I can always count on my friend Chris to think WAY outside the box - so to speak.

Well the answer I come up with is; the big moderator, the thing that, in my opinion will save the score card as we move further into the digital age - is our eyes, our brains. The history of communication has evolved technology that lays stuff out in a way that it is easy to see; like a book or a ledger, because our eyes, a huge part of our brains functioning needs that lay out.

Part of the beauty of creating an html score card is that isn't a black box like the iPad score keeping technology that hides all the data while you're writing it. The tables lay out lets you read it while your adding new data, at a glance, you can see the character of the game unfolding. And if you want you can 'drill down' if you want and read in detail. For example you can easily see that a team scored 5 runs in the first inning of a game - or you can read the pitch by pitch detail of one at bat. After the game is over and all the totals have been tallied you can sit down in a chair at a desk with a reading lamp - a few of the associated cultural artifacts to the book - and study it.

This the legacy of thousands of years of humans trying to communicate information - cave walls were good, but hard to send, better was the Greek parchment roll, still better the hand printed book object with its' binding, the printing press that made pages reproducible on a mass scale. The history of the advances in communications haven't developed new sizes or concepts, they were all improvements that didn't change the basic thing - a hand in the hand sized object that you can sit down with and study.

The personal computer is a variation on that thing; the lap top computer, close to the book in that it sits on your desk, and now the Kindle and other hand held interfaces are developing according to how people want to use them. The smart phone now tries to imitate the pocket book, of 1930's invention (Wikipedia: Pocket Books).

So there is no need to re-invent the score card - just how it's written and shared. The digital age won't change that held in the hand element that our eyes (or brains) and our bodies require - the computer will change to fit us - not the other way 'round. The accountants ledger lay out of the baseball score card is not going to go away, it's here with us in the history of baseball for a reason, and it will endure. An opportunity presents itself now to make the score card more popular than it has ever been.

Score keeping has always been about making watching a baseball game better - from this writers perspective the digital age will do that even better by making the score card easier to read, write and share - and in the process more accurate, and ubiquitous.


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